Before the colonization of North America, a vast unbroken forest extended from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the Great Plains. Living for centuries to their fullest potential, trees in this “Great Forest” reached heights of over 200 feet and measured up to 15 feet in diameter. With settlement and population growth came a steady demand for cleared land and lumber, and the demise of the Eastern forest had begun. By the end of the nineteenth century, nearly all of this “inexhaustible” resource had been clear cut.
West Virginia’s virgin forest was one of the last to fall. The logging industry spread rapidly through this stretch of Appalachian woodlands, peaking between 1870 and 1940. The timbers taken from this expansive forest were used to build homes in the coal towns and logging camps that filled the state. Now, many of these structures lay empty, and their unique wood awaits a second life.
A Business with Deep Roots
A great many wood buildings traced back to the “Great Forest” of West Virginia’s history now appear destined for the land-fill, beyond the point of restoration. Virgin Timber Lumber Company deconstructs these old houses and barns and instead uses their materials to craft one-of-a-kind pieces descended from historic Appalachian forests.
Virgin Timber built their business by fashioning hand-crafted, reclaimed wood furniture with history made for family homes and businesses. Shortly after meeting success with custom furniture projects, owner John Petretich wanted to expand his business with a new product, wood wall plates used for light switch covers and electrical outlet covers. John developed a website for himself and integrated an eCommerce solution to sell his wooden wall plates; however, John, a busy and successful business owner, didn’t have enough time to perfect his site and product positioning.
John hired Starry Eyes Media to update the design and content of some of the most important pages of Virgin Timber Lumber’s website. We added new product pages for every kind of wood used to make the switch plates, did keyword research, and performed on-page SEO. We also took a variety of photos to showcase the variety of wall plates for light switches and electrical outlet configurations and illustrate the beautiful complexities in each species of wood.
Foundation of Photography
We began designing the new pages of the Virgin Timber Lumber Co. to sell the new and popular wall plates, but any website with an online store needs clear and attractive photos to display the products. So we made a visit to John’s workshop in beautiful Oak Hill, WV, and photographed different sets of his freshly created switchplate covers.
John sent us home with a variety of samples so we could experiment with different shots in our studio. It was crucial to get photos of every wood species and plate configuration style so customers looking on the website would know what they’re getting.
With images optimized for web use and placed on the site, the shiny, new online store was ready to go and create an additional source of income for John’s business! Additionally, we provide John with a multitide of additiuonal photos at full resolution so he could use his new photos within other marketing channels.
Sharing History Online
Both Virgin Timber’s story and products are inspiring, but a smooth website with eCommerce capabilities is an invaluable tool to get new followers inspired by the business. Once that happens, the website is also a highly effective sales platform that is easy to use, convenient, and loved by customers. To make this happen, we set up a network of product pages displaying all the switchplates available in every unique species of wood the business sells. Then, we fine-tuned the SEO for each of these pages so anyone looking for wooden wall plates could find the business and become a new customer.
Problems We Solved
While John already had an amazing product with a unique brand sentiment, as well as a functional website he built himself, it was up to us on how to better organize and revitalize his online shop in a way that made it easy for customer’s to search and find just the right product. By creating customized product category pages that represented each species of wood, we were able to provide Virgin Timber’s customers a way to quickly narrow down their choices based on personal preference, which make it easier for them to make a purchase!
Our Favorite Aspects
As with many of our projects, working with Virgin Timber was an immersive learning experience for our team. Not only did we get to learn about differences amongst select hardwood species, but we also were able to learn about a new software we weren’t familiar with, that was used in building/styling Virgin Timber’s WordPress-based website.
Another great aspect of this project is that we had the opportunity to work with a great Appalachian company with a progressive and Eco-friendly business model.